An uptown girl’s downtown world just got a little more dangerous. Alexa Ray Joel, the daughter of musician Billy Joel and supermodel Christie Brinkley, revealed she had contracted the human papilloma virus from her ex-boyfriend.
“I wasn’t angry with him, because it’s so common, and he wasn’t cheating on me,” Joel told Jane Pratt in an interview for Pratt’s Sirius radio show. A transcript of their candid exchange was posted on XOJane.com.
“I mean it was fine, you know. There are no side effects,” Joel told Pratt. “You just go and get it taken care of.”
Joel has previously spoken out about her bouts with depression, surviving her parents’ very public divorce and her own tumultous breakups.
While HPV candor might be rare, the virus itself is not. More than 75 percent of women and 50 percent of men will contract it during their lifetimes, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
But few choose to speak about it as openly as Joel has, said Dr. Samuel Katz, a professor at the Duke University School of Medicine.
“That’s certainly going public on what is a rather a discreet medical affair,” he said.
But Dr. Diane Harper, a professor of gynecology at the University of Missouri, said there’s no reason people should be silent about HPV.
“I actually am happy she is able to say that,” Harper told ABCNews.com. “I want people to know it’s OK to have HPV. It’s very common.”
Harper said there are dozens of HPV strains, and most tend to go away over time. She said it’s inevitable that many will contract it at some point in their lives.
“This is an infection, just as there are other infections,” she said. “It shouldn’t be a social taboo.”